My Animal History

I haven't always been vegan (I wish!). My path to living vegan went something like this:

1998-2005: Dancing For Animals

Between 1998 and 2005, when I had my own Bellydance school, Dreaming Of Jeannie Bellydance, all the proceeds from our school performances would go to animal charities.

I would pay the expenses out of my own pocket and give away every cent made. To see the article that appeared in the Southern Courier in 2004 about one of the performances click on: Good Vibrations.

2006: The Bandana Phase

In 2006 I no longer had my own Bellydance school (although I started it up again in 2013). My classes were scattered all over Sydney, and therefore raising money through a performance evening was no longer an option.

A student of mine and I joined forces to make hundreds of bandana collars (see Jake modelling one in the photo on the right) to give to shelters. The shelters could either give the collars away with each adopted dog as a house-warming gift, or sell them to make some extra (and much-needed) money - whichever they thought would serve their work better.

To see the article that appeared in the Southern Courier in 2006 about the bandana collars Anneliese and I made, click on: Dandy Diamond Dogs.

2007: Balls And Bedding

In mid-2007 Anneliese went to live overseas, so the bandana days were over.

I figured that homeless doggies could do with a hobby, so I bought hundreds of tennis balls that I distributed to various shelters.

And then a very special family offered to whip out their sewing machines and help me in my charity ventures. Using pillow cases stuffed with wadding, Kiem and Regent and their extended family made piles and piles of lovely bedding for the shelters to use or sell.

2008: The Diamante Phase

At this stage I decided to bling it up and started decorating collars with diamantes for the shelters to sell. Jasmin is modelling one such collar in the photo just to the right.

2006 & 2007: Going Vegan

My change in attitude to non-human animals began with my adoption of Jake and Jordan from a kill shelter in 2000. I adopted Jasmin in 2003 after Jordan (RIP) was killed.

In 2004 I started writing and had published various articles about animals. In researching my work, it occurred to me more and more that the animals I was reading about were not so different to the dogs I loved so deeply and dearly.

Surely, I thought, they deserved the same consideration as my dogs? It was this connection and sense of justice that eventually led me to becoming vegan.

One day I came across a photo of a dozen or more rabbits in stocks in a laboratory about to be blinded for product testing. That photo snapped me wide awake, and I made the decision to no longer be complicit in animal abuse.

So late 2006 I went vegetarian and by the end of 2007 I was vegan (ie. not eating meat, dairy, eggs, honey). I also stopped buying clothes, shoes, accessories, and furniture made from animals (eg. wool, suede, silk, feathers, etc), and stopped using cleaning products, bodycare products, and makeup tested on animals.

And I have to say that living vegan is the best best BEST thing I've ever done!

Check out my interview on Robert Cheeke's Vegan Bodybuilding And Fitness site: Despina's 'Go Vegan' Bio.

2009 And Beyond: My Current Focus

I'm now focussing on using my writing skills to inform people how they can help animals by living vegan. Here are my articles: Animal Thoughts and Animal Rights Q&A.

Plus you can join me on Facebook. Click here to send a friend request: Despina's Facebook page

Check out:
Animal Stories
Animal Thoughts (Articles)
Animal Rights Q&A
Animal Videos

bandana collar
Jake (adopted from a kill shelter) sporting a bandana collar.

rescue dog
The late Jordan was also adopted from a kill shelter. (RIP my little angel.)

diamante collar
Jasmin (again, adopted from a kill shelter) blinging it up with her diamantes.




Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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